Mayor and DCCCD team up to promote adult literacy

The Dallas Community College District (DCCCD) is hoping to address an educational crisis. On Aug. 8, Chancellor Joe May announced a new partnership with the City of Dallas called WorkReady-U. The program focuses on the problem of adult illiteracy.

“We regularly hear employers throughout North Texas talk about the challenge of finding people with the skills we need today,” said May. “The most basic skills are English, mathematics and reading. If you don’t have those skills there is not much opportunity for you in today’s world.”

Texas has about 3.8 million adults in need of higher education. For this reason, May encouraged DCCCD to participate in a 15-month study with Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

One adult who benefited from the WorkReady-U program is Raquel Ortiz, a mother and high school dropout, who completed her education at Mountain View.

“My kids were looking at me studying every night and they were like ‘I wanna be like you,’” said Ortiz. She is now a certified nursing assistant and will work at a children’s hospital. “I’m one of the first people in my family to go to college and everyone is proud of me. I never thought I could get all the way here.”

XPRIZE is one of the nonprofit organizations that helped design the study.

“This program is where government, nonprofit and business meet to solve problems,” said Dr. Shlomy Kattan Sr. His company is based in Los Angeles. He felt Dallas had the gumption to make the program succeed.

“It’s a city where people are not afraid to try crazy things,” said Kattan. “This is a crazy project, but they’re doing it because they’re unafraid.”

The Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy is also a partner on the project. The foundation set up a $7 million competition to challenge teams to develop smart phone apps designed to improve adult literacy. Executive Director Liza McFadden said, “Education is a civil right regardless of your age.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings made it clear that the city’s economic growth depends on citizens having the tools to succeed.

“We’re a tale of two cities. We have a great chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Not only is it a moral obligation but it’s an economic train wreck if we don’t address this issue,” said Rawlings. “You’re doing God’s work by figuring this problem out because if we can unleash the power of these human beings, this city has a very bright future.”